KZN IT sector: room for growth despite slow market

PRESS RELEASE:

KZN IT sector: room for growth despite slow market

KZN IITPSA leaders and IT industry stakeholders see opportunities in blockchain, cybersecurity, IoT

In the face of slow economic growth across the country, IT industry stakeholders are optimistic that there are opportunities for growth in the KwaZulu-Natal market.

Committee members of the Institute of Information Technology Professionals South Africa (IITPSA) and local industry players report that there is scope for IT sector growth both within the province and out of the province into pan-African and global markets.

KwaZulu Natal is characterised by a cross-section of industries, ranging from ports and logistics through to manufacturing and retail. The province is feeling the effects of slow national economic growth, say stakeholders. “The market is flat. Many businesses are struggling with tough economic conditions, which is reflected in their IT spend,” says IITPSA KZN Chapter Committee member Bryan Baxter. However, he sees keen local interest in emerging technologies and scope for growth in future.

“A lot of people are talking about the Internet of Things (IoT), although few are doing it at this stage. There is room for IoT growth in the province’s retail, manufacturing, logistics, agriculture and utilities sectors in particular. Agriculture is very interested in the technology to help improve water management and crop yields, and sugar companies have looked at soil moisture monitoring to improve management of irrigation. Smaller farms are using the technology from niche providers. But the use cases for IoT are as wide as your imagination, including safety proximity, emissions monitoring and asset tracking,” he says.

In addition to budget constraints, he notes there are certain challenges in the way of IoT adoption in the province: “A key component of IoT is communicating with the end sensors. Options are limited in remote areas where private LPWAN (low-power wide-area network) networks will have to be built. Also, entry level IoT systems are designed with no consideration for cyber security, which presents new challenges for IT professionals to ensure the adoption of this technology takes place securely without putting the rest of the business at risk.”

Fellow IITPSA KZN Chapter Committee member John Singh notes that businesses in the province have also shown keen interest in cyber security and Blockchain in recent years: “I am personally interested in positioning KZN as a Blockchain and crypto hub, and this is why I am running the IITPSA Blockchain Special Interest Group in KZN,” he says.

Trevor Hart-Jones, founder and managing director of Pylot Pty Ltd, an IoT and systems integration specialist firm headquartered in Umhlanga, is growing his business internationally, although it is based in KZN.  “Uptake has been relatively slow in the province amid economic constraints and a lack of understanding of what IoT can do for business,” he says. “Many of the businesses in the province are mid-sized companies rather than large enterprises, and as such they do not have massive IT budgets. We find that there is interest locally in digital transformation and what IoT can do for business, but the IoT market in the province is generally quite immature. Potential markets in the province include cold chain monitoring, vehicle tracking and commercial dairy farming.”

Chapter Chair Marshall Masanga believes stakeholders must move fast to get ahead of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) curve: “Now is the time to master technology instead of technology becoming our master. With emerging technologies such as IoT, artificial intelligence, robotics, blockchain, virtual and augmented reality now at our fingertips, history is moving faster than our imagination. The 4IR is a reality and inevitably we cannot out-smart or out-efficient the machines but we can out-human them by upskilling, un-learning, re-learning and re-training to acquire new competencies. Evolve or die applies now at both individual, organisational and government levels.”

The IITPSA KwaZulu Natal Chapter serves to encourage ICT professionalism, engage with members and stage events that provide value to members in the province. The Chapter also seeks ways to give back to the community with a bias towards ICT. For more information about IITPSA and to apply for membership, go to www.iitpsa.org.za

Ends